Maldives govt vows to recover funds stolen in tourism graft

Maldives government Wednesday vowed to recover the funds stolen from state coffers in the largest corruption scandal in the history of the archipelago.

Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry.

The official audit report into the scandal, had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

Attorney General Mohamed Anil during a press conference to share the plans to celebrate three years in office, said the government was waiting for the report from the country's draft watchdog to launch recovery efforts.

As soon as the report is received, the government would look to prosecute the people behind the mass embezzlement and recover the stolen state funds.

"This government will take this scandal to the recovery stage. Inshallah we will recover that money," Anil assured.

The funds received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company with strong links to former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor.

Both Adheeb and the former MMPRC head Abdulla Ziyath have been convicted and sentenced to prison over the scandal.

The heads of the private company had fled the country and is believed to be hiding in the UK.

A recent documentary released by Al Jazeera had brought the scandal to international limelight.

Government however, had completely rebuffed the 'unsubstantiated' evidence which the Doha based broadcaster claims to have uncovered in the expose.

Government meanwhile has announced a tighter regulation to streamline tourism revenue inflow.

The regulation would now see tourism revenue go through the archipelago's inland revenue as opposed to the tourism ministry.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer pointed the measures the government has put in place to prevent such corruption in the future.